Potton Salvation Army
The Salvation Army purchased the redundant Methodist church in Chapel Street in 1976. The Army had had a previous meeting house in the town, in Bull Street, as press cuttings from the 1937 North Beds Courier [CRT130POT17] make clear: "1st June 1890…must have been a memorable day. For on that day the opening of the new Salvation Army Barracks in the town took place, with large contingents of the Skeleton Army, the opposing camp, making fun of the loyal Salvationists". This Skeleton Army was a group of people who opposed the Salvation Army's very prominent belief in abstinence. 1881 and 1884 are both dates given for the foundation of the Skeletons. They confronted the Salvationists in a number of towns, mostly in the south of England and violence was often the result, usually administered by the Skeletons and suffered without retaliation by the Salvationists. The Skeletons used skull and cross-bones banners and such mottos as "Blood and Thunder" of the Three B's "Beef, Beer and Bacca". The Potton confrontation seems much more peaceful than those in other places such as Weston-super-Mare [Somerset] or Guildford [Surrey] as these "War Cry" excerpts show: "…the skeletons did all the shouting and we had only the opportunity of blessing them by showing unruffled love in answer to the disturbance in our proceedings"…."The skeleton flag was out with its coffin, skull and cross-bones as well as the whole Skeleton force, uniformed, beating a drum, playing flutes, whirling rattles and screaming through trumpets. One of their chosen leaders was carried shoulder high, ringing a bell and attired in an untrimmed coal-scuttle bonnet. I noticed that the publicans looked pleased to see this array and several waved their hats. But we were good friends of the skeletons, twelve of whom sat at our tea table…Their leaders were very courteous and sincerely desirous of keeping their somewhat rabble followers within bounds. Almost implicit obedience was given them. Their skeleton War Cry was freely sold, but doesn’t quite beat the original".
The Skeleton Army was beginning to wane by this time as it became clear that the Salvationists were going to be around for some time, obviously rural Bedfordshire ruffians were fairly half-hearted compared with their urban brethren elsewhere!